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Price bounces back as Canadiens beat Capitals 2-1

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

By STEPHEN WHYNO

AP Hockey Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) Don't look now, but Carey Price is hard to beat when he's angry.

Mad at himself, his teammates and "everybody" for getting pulled the previous night, Price made a statement in his return to the net as the Montreal Canadiens snapped the Washington Capitals' winning streak at six with a 2-1 victory Saturday night.

Price stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced in a better effort by the 2014-2015 Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender and his entire team than they displayed Friday in a lackluster loss to the San Jose Sharks.

"It was important for everybody to get an opportunity to bounce back," said Price, who earned his 17th win of the season and 250th of his NHL career. "I didn't have any doubts about the resiliency of our hockey team and the way we would respond."

Upon getting yanked for giving up four goals on 18 shots Friday, Price stared down his bench before going down the tunnel. Price explained he was just ticked off and that everything was good between him and coach Michel Therrien.

"I think we're all professionals and we're able to realize that hockey's emotional and sometimes you're not going to see eye-to-eye on things," Price said. "But at the end of the day you show up to work the next day and get the job done."

Price got the job done with big stops on T.J. Oshie, Marcus Johansson and former teammate Lars Eller. His teammates got the job done as Artturi Lehkonen and Jeff Petry scored and the Canadiens blocked 21 shots and contained Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals' high-powered offense.

Defenseman Shea Weber, who left late in the second period when he took a shot from Washington's Dmitry Orlov off the right leg, wasn't surprised that Price or anyone else rebounded as strongly as they did.

"We weren't good enough for him last night and we did a lot better job in protecting him and clearing everything out of the way for him tonight," said Weber, who pronounced himself feeling "great" after the game. "We're a tight group in here and everyone wants to be good for each other and there's a responsibility in here and he's one of our teammates and we've got to be a lot better for him."

The Capitals couldn't say the same about their play in front of 2015-2016 Vezina winner Braden Holtby, who made 23 saves on 25 shots. Nicklas Backstrom scored a 5-on-3 power play goal for Washington, which lost for the first time since Dec. 3 and in regulation for the first time since Dec. 1.

Eller, who was traded from the Canadiens to the Capitals in June, said it was too easy a night for Price.

"To beat any goalie, you have to get shots," said Eller, referring to a shot drought of 15:22 that lasted from the second period into the third. "We made it hard for ourselves."

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said before the game that he expected Price to "come back and make a statement," adding that "If there's one area that I know they're going to be good tonight, it's going be in net." He wasn't wrong about the goaltender he got to know well at the World Cup of Hockey in September.

"They were defending pretty well and they got one of the best goaltenders in the National Hockey League in Price," Trotz said afterward. "He's been outstanding. We didn't make it hard enough, I thought, on Carey. ... I thought they had a little more bite in their game than we did."

NOTES: The Capitals recalled F Zach Sanford from the American Hockey League on Saturday morning as he skated in his first NHL game since Nov. 26. ... Backstrom's goal gave him six points in his past six games and 18 in his past 16. ... Canadiens D Nathan Beaulieu was given a 10-minute misconduct for abuse of officials after tapping his stick on the ice and saying something to a referee when coming out of the penalty box following Backstrom's goal.

UP NEXT

Canadiens: Host Anaheim on Tuesday night.

Capitals: Off until visiting Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

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Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno .

Updated December 17, 2016

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